Waltzing Through the Behavioral Job Interview

This article seemed worth sharing even though it is from a nursing journal. The information is still universal and relevant to those who are in the job search process at this time. I have included most of what I think will interest MIMers from the article and have made a few slight modifications in wording to make it more relevant to the general business environment versus the medical environment.

The following is from American Nurse Today, January 2011, Volume 6, Number 1, “Waltzing Through the Behavioral Job Interview”

What you need to know to ace this nontraditional interview style

  • Over the course of your career you’re likely to encounter various interview styles and formats. Employment-related interviews occur in an array of settings—job-seeking situations, coaching sessions, promotional candidate selection, and annual performance evaluations.
  • The behavioral interview has steadily gained popularity over the traditional interview style. Also called the competency-based or behavior-based interview, it differs from the traditional interview by probing for specifics that reveal a candidate’s probable compatibility—not only with the job’s technical skill requirements but also with the culture of the team and the organizational philosophy.
  • The interviewer is trained to conduct a structured interview that stresses key critical competencies, such as interpersonal skills, behavioral and ethical tendencies, informatics, and other skills that affect performance quality. Managers seek to learn not just what you can do but who you really are and whether you would add to or take away from an existing team’s potential to achieve optimal outcomes.
  • Besides probing your repertoire of skills and experience, the behavioral interview aims to explore and evaluate your attitudes, values, and other personal qualities. The interviewer’s ultimate goal is to help build cohesive teams, enhance team performance to yield optimal patient outcomes, and minimize staff turnover caused by personnel mismatches with the organizational and team culture.

Anticipate the questions

  • Anyone who has applied for a job is familiar with the standard questions of a traditional interview, such as: How would you describe yourself? How would those you’ve worked with or reported to describe you? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where would you like to be in 5 years?
  • In contrast the behavioral interview is based on the premise that past success is a good predictor of future success, and past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. So the interviewer’s questions seek to explore what real-life situations the candidate has encountered and responded to relative to critical competencies of the available position.
  • For example, rather than asking a general question about how you handle stress (as in a traditional interview), the behavioral interviewer may ask you to recount a time when you had to do a task or complete a project while under pressure. Your response helps the interviewer interpret how you measure and respond to levels of perceived stress, as well as how innovative and resilient you are in challenging situations. When you answer, you have a chance to describe how you’ve functioned under pressure in real life and the favorable outcomes you’ve achieved in such circumstances. Had you been asked simply how you handle stress, the interviewer may have come away without enough meaningful input to contribute toward a hiring decision.

Seize the chance to stand out

  • The behavioral interviewer might also ask you to describe a time you came up with an idea within your role to improve your department where you worked. Your response gives you the opportunity to stand out as a problem solver, even if your idea wasn’t accepted or implemented.
  • Some behavioral interview questions are intended specifically to assess your interpersonal skills. For instance, the interviewer might ask you to describe a time when your communication skills and style helped improve less-than-ideal team dynamics.
  • An interviewer interested in your motivational drive, planning skills, and implementation ability might ask you to describe your career goals, your plan to achieve them, and the actions you’ve taken toward achieving them. This question requires a more prescriptive and thoughtful response than its counterpart in the traditional interview, which asks where you see yourself in 5 to 10 years. It allows you to describe your professional career development action plan—one way to make your career aspirations known. After all, the future opportunities could be brewing even at the time of your interview.
  • Some questions may prompt you to detail a communication breakdown and explain how you corrected it and what you learned from it. You may be asked to describe an incident where something you said was misinterpreted, leading to a negative outcome—and what you did to mitigate the damage and what you might do now to avoid a repeat.

Showcase your critical thinking skills

  • The behavioral interview can be a great way to showcase your critical-thinking skills. In fact, some interview questions are designed to evaluate just that. Stay alert for opportunities to detail how you would assess a problem, identify the issue based upon your assessment, prioritize that problem, and manage it affectively. Include all appropriate steps and rationales for actions taken. Also be prepared to describe how you’d work with interdisciplinary team members in challenging circumstances.
  • Wherever you encounter the behavioral interview, see it as a chance for you to shine. By understanding what this type of interview is and why it’s used, you can better display your skills, experience, and personality traits to match the key competencies required.

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Filed under Ali's Entries, Careers, Job Search

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